Updated July 2021
When the Coronavirus pandemic hit, the world faced a massive culture shift. Whereas most employees were previously used to having meetings in person with their colleagues, they found themselves moving to computer screens and holding conversations in the comfort of their own homes instead.
Now that life has seen a downturn in the events surrounding the pandemic, including quarantine and stay-at-home orders, workers see that virtual meetings are not a thing of the past. They are here to stay, in one capacity or another.
With that, people find themselves constantly looking for efficient ways to navigate their team meetings, board meetings and conversations to get the same experience out of them that they would while attending their in-person gatherings. This guide compiles the 25 top virtual meeting tips that people can utilize in their work environment. Continue reading below to find out more.
Virtual Meeting Etiquette
When taking part in a remote meeting, it is important to consider everyone’s experience. This practice means ensuring coworkers get the most out of the discussion and participation isn’t hindered due to another person.
1. Limit Distractions
One of the most frustrating parts of virtual meetings is the external elements that people encounter while talking with a coworker. Is their washing machine running behind them? Do they have a barking dog that is begging to go outdoors?
Knowing that these can annoy others on the call or video, it is essential to eliminate anything that can cause a disturbance during a conversation. Team members can avoid disruptions by planning ahead or by choosing the location wisely.
Whereas some meeting attendees may choose to let their pet outside before the designated time to get on a call, others may prefer a room that is in a quieter location of the house. Additionally, employees can opt to mute themselves when not engaged in the conversation. Although this doesn’t eliminate the extra noise when it is their turn to speak, it decreases what is heard throughout the meeting.
2. Pick A Background
When getting ready to start the workday, many workers go to their at-home desk or just plop down wherever they are comfortable. It is fine to do that; workers just need to make sure that what is behind them isn’t too chaotic or revealing.
At some times, remote employees have found themselves in a bit of trouble for items on display around them. These items can include confidential or inappropriate information, but also may just be piles of dirty laundry or tv playing in the background.
To avoid this, many people have started adding virtual backgrounds to their videos. These backgrounds can be fun in design or generic. At times, it can look like the employee is working on the beach, and at other times it can appear that they are just sitting in front of a blank wall. Having something visually appealing but not too chaotic to look at during a meeting leads to less distraction for all involved.
3. Provide Full Attention
Nothing is worse than a coworker eating a sandwich during the meeting or is constantly getting out of their seat. Even more irritating is when they are scrolling on their phone or completing work tasks instead of focusing on the topic at hand.
We all know that work meetings can go on and on. However, they are only going to take longer if everyone isn’t engaged in the conversation. It is best to set aside all other items that need to be accomplished and provide full attention to the discussion for proper virtual meeting etiquette.
4. Take Turns
Everyone learned this in preschool, but sometimes that knowledge falls to the wayside. It is necessary to take turns talking, not only in person but also in a virtual meeting room.
What can happen is that the discussion will begin, and when the time for questions comes up, everyone talks at once. It is then difficult to gauge who will speak first and who will wait. Not only is this frustrating, but it wastes valuable time.
The great thing is that many virtual meeting platforms offer the ability to “raise your hand” without physically doing so. Therefore, a person can select the option when they have a question, and the presenter knows to call on them. The utilization of this tool is one of the typical virtual meeting best practices that a team can utilize.
5. Be On-Time
Many employers have been cautious throughout the years of their employees working from home. Those in a supervisory role feel that they can’t adequately evaluate their staff during work times.
Recent events have changed that mind frame a bit, but being late to a virtual meeting doesn’t help the situation. All staff must take the initiative to be prompt to all scheduled conference times to show the company and managers that they are reliable and able to work independently.
Trust is a big concern in many workplaces, with workers going to great lengths to solidify it with their bosses. Little things like timeliness, especially in remote situations, go a long way in improving virtual meeting etiquette.
Benefits of Virtual Meetings
There are many advantages to taking work and conferences virtual. Although many feel that work goes more smoothly when all party members are together in one location, this isn’t always the case. There are many tools available to help discussions proceed just as they would have otherwise.
6. Easy Transition
Everyone has those days where they look at their schedule and wonder how they can fit anything more in, only to realize that a meeting is taking place across the building they must attend.
The beauty of virtual meetings is that it is as simple as clicking a link to join the discussion taking place with colleagues. Gone are the days of running across the office building to make the start time of a meeting. When taking meetings remotely, all they have to worry about is clicking the correct link for their assigned meeting.
7. Better Work-Life Balance
How many employees have to take their lunch break in the staff break room, making small talk while chowing down on a ham sandwich? Working remotely with virtual meetings means that the lunch break gets a whole lot more exciting.
Instead of being limited to a specific time frame, remote work allows for the flexibility to take lunch as it fits. Those with a child in school can time their lunch period accordingly to coincide with pick up and drop off.
Lunchtimes can also include more than just a ham sandwich. Employees can take that time to prep dinner for their family later on or switch over the laundry. Perhaps they want to catch an episode of their favorite show or take a quick nap before the next round of meetings. The possibilities are endless!
For those employees who work in sales, the amount of time required to make sales calls every day can be overwhelming. Taking the virtual meeting approach packs more meetings into the day, but without the driving and extra cost.
For those who are used to making five or more sales calls in person each day, they could easily double that amount by hopping on a quick Zoom presentation with a prospective client. No longer is there the worry over the cost of gas or impending repairs. As long as the computer is in good shape, they are ready to go!
9. Quality Conversation
When working in an office, people find themselves taking part in a lot of water-cooler conversations. While this isn’t a bad thing, it isn’t often productive.
While we want to have friendships with our colleagues, the sidebar discussions don’t get us to the place we want. When working remotely, the opportunities for conversation are limited. Therefore, when we can converse one-on-one with a coworker, it is more meaningful than it once was.
10. No More Searching
It is always stressful when a document needs to be approved by a manager, and they are nowhere in sight. The amount of places in an office building that they could be in is plentiful, and it takes a great deal of time to search them all.
With remote work and virtual meetings, the searching is over. Not only can people tell if their managers and colleagues are online or not, but they can select their name and immediately have access to them through video, audio, or chat. Even while in another meeting, they often can respond through a quick message in chat, making daily tasks much more convenient.
Until a few years ago, it was often a requirement for prospective employees to live in the same city as their employer. That is quickly becoming an obsolete requirement. With the technology available to conduct virtual meetings and remote work sessions, employees have the freedom to reside wherever they like.
Not only that, but workers can enjoy flexibility when it comes to travel. Not only can they work from anywhere, but if they desire, they can travel to another country and work for a few weeks, thereby reserving evenings and weekends for exploring.
Many employees feel their best in their own homes. Being in an office environment can be stressful and uncomfortable. Not only do people have to make awkward small talk when they come into contact with someone, but individuals can feel emotions easily. Stressful days at the office are worse when everyone around is feeling the same way!
Being in your personal space feels like a safety net. It is the place that people can retreat to when emotions are high. After a stressful conversation, workers can take a mental health break away from their work and not worry about encountering other staff.
When people do not have an office to go to every day, the company is likely saving money by not paying for space. However, even if going the route of virtual meetings is temporary, it still has cost-saving benefits.
With great frequency, companies fly out of town colleagues in for special meetings or pay for facilitators to guide a discussion. Those costs come with a hefty price tag. Moving panels to Zoom or a similar platform drastically cuts the financial obligation, with a very similar result.
14. Faster Pace
Virtual meetings tend to come packaged with a tighter schedule. This reason could be due to better recognition of people’s time when working more independently or reducing small talk that happens when a large group comes together.
Regardless, remote meetings often have a shorter timeframe and allow for immediate decisions to be made. This time difference likely has something to do with the lack of searching needed to get approvals or opinions of other colleagues to move forward on a project or task.
15. Quicker Turnaround
It is widely known that when people work from home, they can accomplish more in a shorter period. The lack of interruption and last-minute tasks that one might become accustomed to in the office is not prevalent in the remote world.
Likewise, last-minute virtual meetings aren’t commonplace either. Whereas your boss can just pop their head into an employee’s office and tell them to come to such meetings, organizing and hosting a virtual meeting takes extra effort.
Virtual Presentation Tools
When working remotely or telecommuting, the aids available for virtual meeting presentations are pretty vast. It is likely that whatever presentation needs are required, they will be available for virtual meetings.
16. Shared Team Spaces
Many teams have had work sessions where they gather and put all their thoughts on a whiteboard to solve an issue.
Although many may worry that it isn’t possible to get that in a virtual meeting, it is not valid. There are opportunities for teams to have their own online workroom to brainstorm in the same way they did in person.
17. Document Sharing
Instead of printing off memos and reports, a virtual meeting room and platforms allow staff to share documents securely. These items can be displayed during an online presentation or saved for future review. Learn more about document sharing here.
18. Online Storage
At times working virtually can become problematic due to the lack of proximity to a central server. For some employers, this can be stressful because they cannot have immediate access to documents.
However, there are services online that provide virtual storage. With this, everyone in the organization can access needed materials at any time, securely.
19. Digital Signatures
Although some are hesitant to utilize the service, digital signatures significantly impact the way the world works. Instead of tracking down a supervisor for their signature, the document can be emailed to them for an encrypted digital signature, moving the process along more quickly.
20. Project Management
Virtual meetings allow for the use of online organizational tools as well. There are several options available for managing projects and tasks of various sizes, including Trello and Smartsheet.
These options allow the team to keep track of the project’s status and monitor their personal tasks.
For the times that a meeting is so content-heavy that you aren’t able to get all the critical elements noted, there are options to record the virtual sessions. This process is often straightforward to execute and can be easily stored on a cloud server for future reference.
22. AI Note-Taking
It’s often difficult to take good notes during a meeting with all the side conversations that happen. There are now tools available for virtual meetings that will have a bot participate in the discussion and acquire notes for review.
23. Live Streaming
Not only can companies host their internal meetings virtually, but they can also host external conferences virtually as well. Many tools allow users to present to hundreds, sometimes thousands, of attendees.
Many company virtual meetings start with a question or prompt to staff in an attempt to build relationships, even virtually. Now there are tools for virtual meetings to incorporate the element seamlessly. The tools insert a video or picture at the beginning of the meeting with an icebreaker to enjoy.
25. Company Social Media and Chat
There are new tools available to companies that allow them to have their own social media platforms and chat features for internal use. The technology will enable users to correspond as they would in a typical workplace environment and build relationships virtually.
Working remotely with virtual meetings is much more prevalent today than it has ever been. Although recent world events have driven companies to this working style, it has proven to be beneficial for many.
There was once hesitation regarding the efficiency and productivity and etiquette of virtual meetings. However, the concern has decreased with the inclusion of different technology tools and platforms available to companies and their employees.
This review guide provides 25 top virtual meeting tips to help your company stay on track when working remotely. For more information and to incorporate tools to help propel your team in online working, visit Sizle for options that will work for you and your employees.